Abu Dhabi National Airline inks deal with Israeli company to begin direct flights to Tel Aviv.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The national airline of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways, has already begun selling flight tickets to Israelis, Channel 13 news reported Tuesday.
Etihad partnered with Israel’s Tal Aviation to sell tickets to Israelis that will give them access to the company’s 400 destinations around the world, including in the Middle East and Asia.
“In recent weeks, we have witnessed an increase in demand from the Israeli market and a desire to return and fly,” said Nissim Sagis, VP of Commerce at Tal Aviation. “We are excited to partner with our new partners, and offer passengers from Israel the opportunity to experience Etihad’s famous service experience to Abu Dhabi and other destinations on its global flight network.”
On Monday, an El Al flight arrived in the United Arab Emirates, bringing a delegation of American and Israeli officials to the UAE capital on the first-ever direct commercial flight between the two countries. Israeli trade officials held working meetings on a variety of agreements for cooperation in different fields, including transportation.
Last week, El Al Airlines recalled three pilots who were sent to the IDF, so that they can begin preparing for the Monday’s flight on a plane equipped with anti-terrorism devices to defend the aircraft from surface-to-air missiles.
With just over 100 aircraft in its fleet, Etihad is twice the size of Israel’s El Al national airline. Based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad flies to over 400 destinations worldwide.
Leaders from Israel and the UAE are expected to formally sign a peace deal at the White House later this month to establish diplomatic relations. The UAE will become the third Arab nation after Egypt and Jordan to make peace with the Jewish state.
Etihad Airlines’ company brand name is well known as the sponsor of a dozen professional sports teams – most significantly Manchester City in the English Premier League and five teams in the United States, including the New York City FC in Major League Soccer and the Washington Mystics of the Women’s NBA basketball league.
The Skytrax World Airline Awards ranked Etihad as the world’s 29th best airline in 2019, a serious drop from its previous 15th place in 2018, but it still gets a 4-star rating while El Al has only a 3-star rating.